What makes this west side of Vancouver Island tick? News & views on business & economy, health & wellness, education, arts, politics, sustainability, the young Z-gen, & social trends.  




Monday, September 17 ~ LANGFORD. Mayor Stew Young is getting support from the development, housing, real estate and building trades communities for his consistent efforts to support the Langford and west shore economy.

The development of housing and infrastructure in Langford is key to building the economy and providing services for residents and businesses.

Last week at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Whistler, Mayor Young garnered support from mayors and councils around the province. Support for his City of Langford motion that calls for review and revision of the proposed BC Speculation Tax now allows UBCM to call on the Province “to replace the approach in the current proposed Speculation Tax with a provision to empower local governments to collect a levy on vacant residential properties and to require local governments that choose to impose such a levy to invest the revenues in non-market housing.”

In that way, each municipality would have more specific and more appropriate control of how the taxation of vacant properties (if any) is managed in each of their communities.

Stew Young has been mayor of Langford for over 25 years, and is running again to be mayor for 2018-2022 (election date October 20, 2018). His approach to developing infrastructure and densifying the residential and commercial areas of town is largely responsible for the burgeoning population (now over 40,000) and robust economy of Langford.

Full article about the Spec Tax and UBCM on page 1 in the September 14, 2018 West Shore Voice News weekend digest.

Article about Stew Young running in the 2018 municipal election, with backing of the development community.

Friday, September 14 ~ WEST SHORE. Three municipalities in the west shore will see their mayors uncontested in the October 20 general election: Highlands, Metchosin and View Royal. One last-minute contender has joined the Langford race against long-time powerhouse Mayor Stew Young.  In Sooke, the race is on between incumbent mayor Maja Tait, 2-term councillor Kevin Pearson, and community activist Mick Rhodes. In Colwood, the mayoralty race is on between Carol Hamilton and 2-term councillor Rob Martin.

In the council races, Langford council candidate Wendy Hobbs is also running again for SD62 trustee. Langford candidate Norma Stewart has been on the planning and zoning committee for 12 years.

Colwood has 11 council candidates of which three (or half the outgoing council) are incumbents, and one is a former staffer.

For Sooke council, there are three incumbents running (or half the outgoing council): Rick Kasper, Ebony Logins, and Brenda Parkinson. Former councillors (in previous terms) are running again: Rick Armour and Herb Haldane. Bev Berger and Kerrie Reay are not running again. Jeff Bateman is running again (his 2014 run for council fell short by 10 votes). Doni Eve is running (she is married to Rick Kasper).

In the SD62 school trustee race, current board chair Ravi Parmar is running again, as are incumbents Wendy Hobbs, Bob Phillips (current vice-chair), Neil Poirier, Dianna Seaton, and Margot Swinburnson. Parent advocate Cendra Beaton is running (Belmont Zone). A member of the Sooke local media — Britt Santowski — is running in the Milne’s Landing Zone in the Sooke area (which could be seen as a conflict of interest).

For the full scoop, see Full List of Candidates in the West Shore.

Premier John Horgan at the UBCM convention Sept 14 in Whistler [screenshot].
Friday, September 14 ~ VICTORIA.  Today Premier John Horgan pitched for proportional representation in his speech at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler.

Horgan said that over his years in politics (first elected in 2005) he now supports a system in which the benefits of each person’s vote counts to produce a legislature of MLAs who represent what people in the constituency want and need done.

The Premier boasted the success of his present minority government with the BC Greens, an arrangement he says is based on the success of collaboration.

Tomorrow Saturday September 15, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party will be holding a rally about proportional representation at 2pm starting 2 pm at Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas St.


Selina Robinson, BC Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing [screenshot from UBCM convention, Sept 12, 2018]
Wednesday, September 12 ~ BC. The BC government has announced that communities with populations under 25,000 will be eligible for funding of up to 90% of community recreation infrastructure projects provided by a combination of federal and provincial grants.

For small communities under 5,000 the funding will be 100%.

Both these announcements in a speech by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson today at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Whistler drew genuinely enthusiastic applause.

This will support communities in various ways, including providing jobs and building local economies. The outcomes will be improvements for overall community activity and well-being. In turn this creates strong communities on all levels.

And on the matter of housing, Minister Robinson said: “There is no time to waste. We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can at every level of govt to deliver more affordable housing.”

She announced that another 2,500 modular homes (with support systems for occupants) will be made available to municipalities that can provide land for these projects.

Kevin Pearson is running for Mayor of Sooke, shown here at the Sooke harbourside in May 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]
Monday, September 10 ~ SOOKE. District of Sooke Councillor Kevin Pearson is running in the October 20 election to be the next mayor of Sooke. He says he will get more done.

“Leadership is the key issue,” he says. “Since 2014, Sooke council has made plans and approved funding but we’ve lacked leadership in delivering results,” Pearson said.

“The current leadership hasn’t been minding the store. Under focused leadership, we can do better,” he said this week.

He says no committees presently have public appointees and almost everything is delegated to staff. He would create three committees: Finance, Administration and Human Resources; Land Use/OCP; and Arts & Beautification. Full article here

Saturday, September 8 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Premier John Horgan was in Sooke to help officially open the 2018 Sooke Fall Fair at noon, then travelled to Port Renfrew to take part in a special forests announcement for the Cowichan and Port Renfrew regions.

People in the Cowichan Lake communities and Pacheedaht First Nation will benefit from a unique community forest agreement for the Qala:yit [Kwah-LIE-it] Community Forest, reached in partnership with the provincial government.

“This is the latest stride that our nation has taken towards creating our own economic destiny, including a new sawmill and a new potable community water system that is capable of serving the entire Port Renfrew area,” said Chief Jeff Jones, Pacheedaht First Nation.

“In partnership with the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative, BC Timber Sales and the Province, we are achieving our goal of greater resource management in our traditional territory.”

The agreement with BC Timber Sales is the first of its kind. One of the unique conditions of this community forest is that part of the land base includes BC Timber Sales’ operating area and, as a result, 7,296 cubic metres will be sold by BC Timber Sales. Of the net revenue generated from the BC Timber Sales harvest, 50% will be shared with the Qala:yit partners to use in their communities.

“The Qala:yit Community Forest partnership is the first of its kind and a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together to create good jobs and more opportunities so people can build better lives in their communities,” said Premier John Horgan.

As part of the application, the partners demonstrated community awareness and support for the community forest, including building relationships and sharing information with neighbouring First Nations and area communities. The applicants also submitted a management plan for approval that helped determine the final allowable annual cut, set at 31,498 cubic metres over approximately 8,000 hectares of Crown land.

“With such a tight land base in the area, the Qala:yit Community Forest would not have been possible without entering into this agreement with BC Timber Sales,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“Because of the willingness of all parties to embrace ingenuity, the Pacheedaht First Nation and Cowichan Lake communities are now poised to reap the financial and social rewards, and increased input into local resource management decisions that go along with community forest agreements,” said Donaldson.

Community forest agreements are long-term, area-based tenures designed to encourage community involvement in the management of local forests. A community forest is managed by a local government, community group or First Nation for the benefit of the entire community.

Langford Mayor & Council joined the first 30 buyers at Belmont Residences, September 6 [West Shore Voice News]

Thursday, September 6 ~ LANGFORD. New Belmont Residences building breaks ground under sunny skies.

by Mary P Brooke, WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS [Read this article on its own page]

Construction of the first residential building at Belmont Residences in Langford will get underway tomorrow, September 7. And today there was a groundbreaking celebration on the very spot where an 80-unit condo building will stand ready for occupancy in winter 2020.

Attending were the first 30 buyers who have pre-purchased units in the building that backs onto the Galloping Goose Trail, with a tip of the hat to the first two sets of purchasers.

As well, Langford Mayor Stew Young and council were on hand for the event under sunny skies, as well as many representatives of the developer, sales team and Realtors.

Mayor Young told the crowd from the podium that the Belmont development creates employment, and welcomed all the people who have chosen Langford for their new home in the development. He commended his council, developers and community for the teamwork that makes progress happen. With the current housing crisis, Stew Young says it’s important to take fast action with housing development, and he’s proud of Langford’s success in that regard.

In the backdrop was a large excavator upon which plastic (unfilled) champagne bottles were symbolically struck, to mark the beginning of construction.

About 45% of Belmont Residences West have been sold. Working professionals and downsizers are the target audience to the walkable community nestled within the commercial Belmont Market shops (including a new landmark Thrifty Foods store), professional services and urban amenities. Unit prices range from the low $300,000s to low $600,000s, including 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 2-bedroom+flex suites.

Marcela Corzo who is Director of Development for Belmont Residences told the crowd about the Belmont Club, a centrally-located building within the development that will be a community hub with community room, arts and craft rooms, music studio, kids room and multi-purpose area. It’s a space to “foster community and engage with neighbours”, said Corzo.

The online #MyBelmont campaign was also announced by Corzo today. The social media activity is open to the general public and buyers (and their respective Realtors). Participants will earn points that can win a variety of prizes from local merchants.

The Belmont Sales Centre is at 915 Division Avenue (off Jenkins Avenue) in Langford. The sale office which includes a show home is open Saturdays through Thursdays, noon to 5 pm (closed Fridays). Appointments available at other times by emailing to info@belmontresidences.com or by phone at 778-432-3777 or visit www.BelmontResidences.com .

Thursday, September 6 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Free public Wi-Fi is now available to patients and visitors at Victoria General Hospital (VGH) and the Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH) thanks to financial support from local hospital auxiliaries.

In April 2018, Lake Cowichan resident Sarah Gibson started a petition asking Island Health to introduce free public Wi-Fi for patients. Gibson, who lives with Cystic Fibrosis, found the financial burden of using her data plan while she’s in the hospital to stay connected with family, friends and her CF support group was an added stress.

“I would like to thank Sarah for creating awareness on the benefits of publicly-accessible Wi-Fi at hospitals,” says Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Her efforts led us to develop a creative solution to provide free Wi-Fi at Victoria General Hospital. There are many critically important demands in our health-care system; however, when we engage our auxiliaries and foundations we can deliver on patient-centric amenities like Wi-Fi that enhance medical services and programs and help patients stay more connected.”

Says Island Health patient Sarah Gibson: “I know from experience, that having those connections outside the hospital can really help in healing and recovery.”

Patients and visitors can access the new service by searching for and connecting to the wireless network “IslandHealthGuest”. Free public Wi-Fi will support basic internet browsing, but not the large bandwidths associated with high-definition video streaming. The service has commenced today September 6, 2018.


The Bank of Canada benchmark interest rate did not go up today September 5.

Wednesday, September 5 ~ NATIONAL. ECONOMIC ANALYSIS.  The economy is okay but not scorching hot, as one way to look at the Bank of Canada not increasing its benchmark interest today.

At their last rate hike (on July 11) there was an indication that if the economy needed some level of containment that another interest rate hike would happen this month.

Previous to today’s non-hike, there were four interest rate increases in a row, 0.25 percent each, bringing the interest rate to 1.5 in July, where it remains.

Interest rates have made a very slow climb up from the record low of 0.25% seen in April 2009 after the onset of the Great Recession. It took nine years for most sectors of the economy to recover from the 2008 crash, including consumers, retail, businesses, and corporate investors. The financial industry overall fared very well on people’s struggle to recover.

Simplistically, the central bank raises its rate when it wants to cool down an overheated economy but cuts it when it wants to coax people to borrow money to spend and invest in a sluggish economy.

But things are not simple in what the bank and the federal government are purporting to be a robust economy. Businesses are hiring but sometimes can’t find enough help due to would-be workers not being able to afford housing in cities where the jobs are. Given the realities of trade issues with the United States, large-capacity investors are understandably cautious which is in effect a continuation of the minimal-action-mode seen under conditions of uncertainty during the long recession-recovery grind. Everyone is more cautious with a dollar, whether that be two or a million.

While economic reports boast increases and strength in exports, there is no magic to that as an economic fix. Exporting can involve long timelines for return on investment given the overhead of remote setups, travel and shipping costs.

The good news is that post-recession confidence was finally seen to return to the BC marketplace (perhaps a bit sooner in Ontario and Saskatchewan where the economy was more robust) by 2017, but with all sectors more cautious. There is a willingness in people and economy to move forward, which hopefully the Bank of Canada will not quash with any interest rate hikes again for a while.

The talk today in economic circles is to expect a benchmark rate increase at the end of October. But borrowers (whether for mortgages, lines of credit, or loans) are probably still working hard to hold steady where they are. Increasing the cost of everything again — from consumer retail on up — seems still just a bit too soon.

Tuesday, September 4 ~ BC. OPINION-EDITORIAL by Rob Fleming, BC Minister of Education: “As we get our kids ready for the school year ahead – adjusting to changing schedules and new routines – I am filled with incredible optimism. After years of underfunding by the previous government, Premier John Horgan made it a priority to quickly make a number of positive changes in BC schools, recognizing no investment is more important than a quality education – it’s the key to a better future and a prosperous economy.” Read the full Op-Ed

Monday, September 3 ~ BC MAINLAND. Transit announcement on the first day back to class. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, BC Premier John Horgan, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner will be making a transit announcement at the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser Univeristy (SFU) tomorrow afternoon Tuesday, September 4.

Sunday, September 2 ~ BC. The 2018 fire season is far from over. While temperatures have dropped, various levels of rainfall are occurring, and the smoke has cleared throughout most of the province, the risk of wildfires remains high. As of Thursday August 30, there were 518 wildfires burning in BC, with 53 being highly visible or posing a potential threat to public safety.

Everyone is urged to use extreme caution with any outdoor activity to ensure no human-caused wildfires are added to an already challenging workload. Fires caused by people’s activities are completely preventable and unnecessarily divert firefighting resources from naturally occurring wildfires.

From April 1 to Aug. 30, 2018, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 2,015 wildfires throughout the province, with 444 of those caused by people. Over 1.25 million hectares have been burned in the province to date, surpassing last year’s record of 1.21 million hectares burned — that’s the highest number of hectares burned in the province’s history.

Campfires are still banned throughout the province, with the exception of the “Fog Zone” on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Peace Forest District and Fort Nelson Forest District in the Prince George Fire Centre. Information about current open burning prohibitions, including campfire bans: http://gov.bc.ca/wildfirebans

The Province’s natural resource officers and conservation officers conduct regular patrols throughout BC, and work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff to investigate any improper use of fire when an open-burning prohibition is in effect.

Saturday, September 1 ~ WEST SHORE. Stabbing incident on a construction site in the west shore area on August 31. More on the Langford page.